The VIP Program

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If you take a stroll through NYIT’s Central Islip campus you’ll notice there is plenty of room, and a bit of a quiet environment on the outside. It seems like your typical college campus setup. On the grass there are volleyball nets, dormitories, and even a baseball field. It’s quite the campus, but to many of us at NYIT Old Westbury and Manhattan it is an unfamiliar territory. Most Old Westbury and Manhattan students most likely have not had the opportunity of ever visiting NYIT’s Central Islip campus, and are unfamiliar with what exactly goes on there. The truth is, a very impressive program takes place there, the VIP, and NYIT’s Central Islip Campus its home.

NYIT’s Vocational independence Program, also referred to as VIP, resides at NYIT’s Central Islip Campus. The program is a three-year post secondary and comprehensive transition program dedicated to students with special needs. NYIT’s VIP admits and accommodates students who may have a range of learning disabilities, Autism, or Asperger syndrome. Students go through a formal application process for admittance in the program. The students whom are accepted come from a variety of locations, including some currently in the program; from across the country in California to across the border in Canada. The VIP accepts a range of 40 to 45 students each year as incoming freshman.

The program educates the students on skills that will prepare them for life after graduation. The VIP focuses on teaching academics, independent living, social skills development, and vocational exploration and training. There are 6 vocational majors in the vocational program that include retail, children’s recreation, clerical, food services, facilities maintenance, and hospitality services. Various classes teach students a range of useful tasks from searching the web, to apartment living, to cooking, and to budgeting money. The classes help to give students and their teachers a feel for future occupations and independent living skills.

Outside of the classroom at the VIP students are given a range of freedom and activities. The VIP allows students free privileges such as having no curfew and no prohibitions against leaving campus. They are also given responsibilities besides their classroom duties, such as vocational placements, which are generally unpaid internships. There is also room on the Central Islip campus for enjoying activities in its facilities such as swimming, basketball, and karaoke. The campus provides an out of the classroom experience that balances work and fun. When hard working VIP student Matt Clendenin isn’t busy inside the classroom or working at his job at Stony Brook hospital he said “I like to talk at the coffee house with my friends in the program.” The students all live on campus and have their free space in their dormitories on the Central Islip campus. The dormitories resident advisors are often NYIT Old Westbury students.

These VIP students are nothing less than talented and eager to learn. They even have their own student newspaper running on the campus called “The Monthly Growler”. Two of the teachers at the VIP who also help to oversee and manage The Monthly Growler are Jason Baron and Maryanne Dumas. The newspaper began last year with Maryanne’s clerical class as a class project, and currently has 7 students writing articles in it.

Both Jason and Maryanne have just recently celebrated their one-year anniversary with the program, and have had nothing but positive goals for the students. “My goal is to make everyone feel welcome and comfortable” Jason said. Jason teaches a freshman computer class and a food & nutrition class, while Maryanne teaches a nutrition class, freshman clerical class, and an introduction to employment class.  “There is an amazing mix of students here,” Maryanne said “my goal is for the students to be prepared for the next step in life, so they can live independently in the future.”

The teachers in the program are able to see what the strengths of the students are and what jobs fit them best. After completing 3 years in the program the students are able to graduate and start the next part of their lives, perhaps independently. It is the hard work of the NYIT’s Central Islip Vocational Independence Program and its staff that gives these students a positive experience post-graduation. The Central Islip campus may seem quiet and unknown to some students 26 miles away at NYIT’s Old Westbury campus, but it is very apparent that it is loud in its positive impact on the VIP students in their present and future live

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